Moral Jugdments and Knowledge about Felony Murder in Colorado: An Empirical Study
23 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2023
Date Written: September 5, 2023
With funds provided by a Hughes Pilot grant, I conducted a survey of 523 Colorado residents to determine their knowledge of and moral attitudes towards the felony murder rule. The survey showed that only a very small fraction of the participants knew that unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies was murder punishable at the time by life without the possibility of parole. Similarly, only a very small fraction of survey participants believed that persons who committed unintended killings in the course of predicate felonies deserved a murder conviction or sentence of mandatory life without the possibility of parole. Rather, the mean sentence that survey participants considered just for felony murder was just over six years in prison. These results substantially undercut the two main justifications given for felony murder, namely deterrence and retribution.
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